This is of course a service that is ment only for Moslems staying in that hotel, but it is an interesting detail that I do not remember to have seen in my hotel in Dubai for instance.
You will find this small signpost next to your bed.
- Religious Travel
The Traditional Dhow Festival
If you happen to be in Doha in November between the 19th – 23rd don’t miss the Dhow Festival that takes place by the Cultural village of Katara.
The harbour is full of vessels from across the Gulf. The boats belong to Arab sailors, fishermen, traders or pearl divers from Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The event is under the auspices of the Emir, and includes dhow cruises, boat-building demonstrations, a light and firework show, children’s activities and museum exhibitions.
I was here this year on this last trip of mine to Doha and it was indeed something I enjoyed. We spent more than 4 hours out here, chatted a lot with the fishermen. We even had a short sailing experience in one of these boats.
A memorable day indeed!
- Arts and Culture
The Food Festival of Doha
The Food Festival takes place from 28 – 31 March and it has become a great annual family event in Doha.
This year’s festival is taking place at the Museum of Islamic Art Park itself in a beautiful setting and guests are entertained with various activities.
It has a free entry, but guests who wish to try the food should buy food vouchers.
The two main themes carried are; healthy food and a healthy lifestyle.
The festival is focusing on the Qatari UK Year of Culture by highlighting traditional dishes from both the UK and Qatar.
Families can enjoy sampling food and different cuisines from around the world as prepared by a wide variety of some of Qatar’s finest 5-star hotels and restaurants.
How do you like the idea of dining up in the air! Any comments?
The cost for dining in the air for just one hour is something like 100 euros.
You will see mostly locals here because for them 100 euros can be a tip only!!
Upon enterning you are given some vouchers and it is indeed a great burgain because you have the opportunity to have a dish with very little. (3 or 4 euros) pay extra for the soft drink of course but the idea the the dish is coming from Signature restaurants is something great isn't it?
- Food and Dining
- Road Trip
Falconry is a serious sport in the Persian Gulf. The Crown Prince of the UAE is a champion falconer, and wealthy members of Gulf society will often consider practicing the sport to be, along with horsemanship and poetry composition, a mark of having mastered the fine traditions of the Gulf Arab World. Of course, falcons are expensive birds, and they are not nearly as common in nature as they once were, but it is possible to see the fine, trained specimens on sale at the Jayda Souq, near Waqif Souq in downtown Doha. Falcons can be vicious – they were trained to hunt, like dogs for the fox hunt – but it is hard not to feel a bit of awe and respect for these majestic birds when up close to them. At some events, trainers will also allow their birds to sit on visitors hands, and they can be quite tame and docile while in their master’s care.
- Arts and Culture
We often think of camels as brutish beasts that, like donkeys, were mainly pack animals. While this may be true today for some tourist resorts, the presence of the camel in the collective memory of the Gulf Arabs is a dear one. In the desert, along the trade routes that provided many with their livelihood before the discovery of oil, camels were the salvation of man. Their ability to trek for days without refreshment was invaluable in barren expanses of desert. Their milk, rich in nutrients and filling like no other milk, gave sustenance to the nomads. In times of plenty, they were slaughtered for feasts and special occasions. Camels today are still kept by Gulf Arabs, and are treated with the same respect as prize race horses.
The Qatari Woman- fashion
- ABAYA Fashion
Most Conservative and religious Qatari women are covered from head to toe in black. They wear a plain abaya, abayat raas and nikab.(see glossary below)
Of course I have seen these ladies while in Doha many times in public bathrooms removing or uncovering, grooming and taking out their make-up kit to freshen up. They have angel faces, and many of them have their hair dyed, and well hair-do.
I had a totally different picture at first thinking that under the abaya what ladies wear are long colourful dresses with no style or design at all. How wrong I was! The first lady I saw was in her tiny pair of jeans and an expensive blouse, laden in crystals.
Abayas come in every cut and design conceivable nowadays and they are worn as a form of liberation and not a form of oppression as many might think.
There are abayas for different occasions just like with the Western-style fashion. For the daytime abayas are usually plain or might have simple designs. You can even get sporty abayas!
More elaborate with different cuts and intricate designs are those worn in the evenings. For special occasions like holidays or weddings these abayas look like black gowns, laden with diamonds, Swarovski crystals, lace or leather, denim, even fur-abayas with everything one can imagine!
Many young Qatari women are pursuing higher studies and careers in fashion design: one graduate is now working in Paris for Valentino. They are setting up their own abaya businesses and are opening their own boutiques.
The next time you see a Qatari woman who is fully covered, by all means do not assume that she has no idea about fashion and style. She more than likely has better taste in fashion and style than you!
Abaya: the traditional black, long and long-sleeved garment Qatari women wear on top of their clothes when they go outside the home.
Abayat raas: a traditional black over-dress similar to a cape which covers the whole body, has sleeves and a section which goes over half the head, usually worn by older women or more conservative and religious women.
Nikab: the vail they have on the face
Sheila – a long, rectangular, black headscarf worn wrapped around the head.
Thobe: The flowing white dress worn by men.
Local currency: Qatari Riyal
Since 1973 the Qatari Riyal is the official currency of Qatar. 1 Qatari Riyal is divided into 100 Dirham, but I must admit that the coins don't play an important role in daily life. The following banknotes are in circulation:1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500 Qatari Riyal.
I didn't notice any lack of cash points (ATMs) in Doha. I saw several cash points at the airport and in the city centre. There was even a cash point in our hotel "The Torch".
Credit Cards are also widely accepted, especially in the bigger hotels and shopping malls.
- Business Travel
- Budget Travel
Orry the Oryx - The 2006 Asian Games
With the approaching Asian Games of 2006, the official mascot is popping up all over town.
It's Orry the Oryx. You'll find him dressed up in the costumes of several of the athletic events. He'll appear to you in the form of statues and posters all over the city.
This is the most obvious image of Orry; a huge statue on the Corniche that incorporates a countdown to the games of December 2006.
The games are scheduled for 1-15 December 2006. Book your rooms now. If you'd like to volunteer, they go to the website for more information.
Although Qatari people dress in a very traditional way, there is no dresscode for foreigners - which means that you could wear whatever you like. In practice - while you are not required to wear a dishdasha or an abbaya - it would be so much better to wear some modest clothes, which means no shorts for men, no mini-skirts for women, and no tank tops for both.
Judging from what my (conservative) Libyan friend Hajer wears, I would say that if you are a lady, you really don't need to wear baggy clothes... She covers up very well, with trousers and long-sleeved blouses, but her clothes are very fashionable and tight-fitting. Occasionally she would wear a short dress over light long trousers. If you are not a muslim, there's no need to wear a headscarf... and no one will give you strange looks if you don't wear it.
Codes of Clothing Conduct
Qatar is an islamic state and as a courtesy, visitors should dress modestly. Normal swimwears, including bikinis, is acceptable on the beach or by the pool, but t-shirts and discreet covering of the legs is desirable if you move away from these places. Topless sunbathing is not permitted.
Be particularly conscious of your dress code when visiting public places like the malls or parks or souq areas especially areas frequented by mixed nationalities. Women should avoid wearing spaghetti-strap or see-though blouses and short skirts.
It is considered particularly important to dress modestly during the Holy Fasting month of Ramadan.
- Arts and Culture
Beers, wines and other alcoholic drinks can only be found at bars located at hotels. There are stiff fines for consuming alcohols other than on licensed premises, or at home (if you have a liquor permit).
Drink-driving is a serious offense and the country applies zero tolerance attitude to drugs.
No establishments serve alcohols during the days of Ramadan.
Tea or drink
Everytime you are offered a drink in an office or house, it is an insult to refuse a tea or a drink.
When you are done and you don't want another, shake the tea cup handle from side to side to let them know you are done and dont want another.
Before Qatar's vast natural gas reserves were discovered, pearl diving (along with fishing) was once the backbone of the country's economy. Divers lived out at sea on pearling boats for three to four months at a time, and used no equipment other than a nose clip, a net for holding the oysters, and lead weights which they tied around their feet to help them sink to the bottom. From sunrise to sunset they would take turns diving to collect as many oysters as they could before they ran out of breath. When the Japanese started farming cultured pearls, the pearl diving industry collapsed. The gentleman seen in the photo is sometimes found in the heritage village in Rumeilah Park giving demonstrations on pearl diving. He still dives too, but nowadays he uses scuba gear. Pearls are still highly prized and can be found for sale as jewelry in the gold souq.
- Women's Travel
- Arts and Culture
- Budget Travel
Don't offer to shack hands if you are a female
It was first time meeting up my auditor in his office. Well, I had offer a hand shake but rejected by him because Islamic guys don't touch womens' hand unless they are husband and wife. I came from a Muslim country too, so I understand why he rejected my hand shake. It would be better to greet them by saying "Hello", "Good morning", "Good afternoon" or "Good evening".
- Religious Travel
The traditional sword dance, known as the Ardha, is performed in Qatar on special occasions such as religious holidays and national celebrations. I caught a glimpse of it one night when I happened upon a large gathering at this event hall next door to my housing compound. I was told by a fellow bystander - an Egyptian woman - that the people at the gathering were all members of the richest family in Qatar, the Al Amaniya (sp?) family, who owns more than half the country. They were celebrating an event that had happened long ago in their family's history; she wasn't exactly sure what. After explaining as much as she could, she told me quietly, 'A Qatari would not tell you this. They consider this to be inside information, not for outsiders.' As she walked away I thanked her for the secret information and continued to watch the dance through the iron gate.
To an outsider like myself both the singing and dancing can seem quite repetitive, as the dancers seem to repeat the same phrase over and over again as they perform the same hop step while raising their swords in the air. Once I researched it a bit, though, it began to make more sense. I found out that the Ardha traces its origins to bedouin days and is also performed in neighbouring countries like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. It combines dance and poetry, with a poet moving back and forth between two lines of singers and dancers. The poet gives each group of singers a line to repeat before moving across to the other group. The traditional lyrics are of chivalry and strength and adapt to each occasion across generations.
- Arts and Culture
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